Reviewed by JustJen
Author: Jamie Fessenden
Heroes: Derek Sawyer/Russ Thomas
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 273 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 7, 2015
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Derek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.
One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.
Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.
Review: I was really looking forward to this story. I love reading about damaged characters who overcome and find love.
Derek is a sweet guy who is engaged to somewhat of a jerk. His fiancé is distrustful and possessive, and the two have not had a very good relationship for quite a while it seemed. Derek came across as a bit of a doormat in this regard, simply taking whatever his fiancé dished out and making excuses for him. Then, his “best friend” of many many years violates/rapes him while they are drunk on a business trip. This changes Derek, and understandably so. He is forced to work with this “friend” while also having a very difficult time pretending things are normal at home.
Russ is the neighbor who is attracted to Derek, but who accepts a friendship with Derek rather than pushing for more and breaking up a relationship. When everyone (almost everyone except for Russ) turns on Derek, it is Russ who is there for him. He lost himself, his fiancé, his job, his so called-best friend, etc. Thankfully, he had his dog and his neighbor/friend, Russ. Even though a little overbearing/overprotective at times, little by little, Russ gains Derek’s trust, but there are a lot of demons to hurdle.
Derek’s “friend” was awful pretty much from the start, which only furthered his pattern of letting people walk over him. This may have made him a bit more vulnerable as far as his recovery went, but having never dealt with such an experience, I can’t say for sure. That’s the feeling I had throughout though.
This is a difficult subject, and I think it was handled well here. I really enjoyed watching Russ help Derek to deal with and get past the trauma as a friend and enabling Derek to have a real relationship. Unfortunately, I was not nearly as blown away as I was hoping to be. It just didn’t bring out the emotions or feels I was expecting. There is a very good chance I am in the minority on this one though, so if this sounds like your kind of story, I recommend you give it a try.
Overall Impression: I liked it
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*